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Don't send my Masoud back into danger

PUBLISHED: 17:43 24 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

IPSWICH mother Teresa Sadeghi escaped years personal turmoil to find love with a man who taught her to draw a line under her tortured past. Now that dream is falling apart at the seams as the man she married just three weeks ago faces deportation back to the country where he believes his life is in danger.

IF there is one thing Teresa has learnt over the past few weeks it is that she possesses an inner strength she never knew she had.

She wakes each day with the cold fear that the man she married just three weeks and three days ago could be taken away from her and her son at any moment.

Wedding gifts lie untouched in an upstairs room of her east Ipswich home. Congratulations cards wishing the newly wed couple luck for the future are bundled in a pile, too painful to be read.

Celebrations are on hold – but Teresa, 31, faces each day with the renewed determination that she will not give up the fight to keep her

husband.

"I won't regret falling in love with Masoud. I can't help the way I feel, but I don't know what we are going to do. I try not to think about it, it makes me go mad," she said.

"People think asylum seekers come to this country because it's a better way of life but Masoud gave up everything to come here. He left his family, his friends, business. He had everything."

The couple insists theirs is not a marriage of convenience. Rather than helping his case it has caused them further problems as Masoud, 27, renounced his Islamic faith before getting married to join Teresa as a Christian. To return to Iran now would be highly dangerous. "You should see the fear in his eyes," said Teresa.

"I thought he would get a fair

hearing in this country but he hasn't. I can't believe the way he has been treated.

"We fell in love really fast which is unusual for me because I am a very careful person.

"Meeting Masoud was my one true break and chance for happiness. I had never experienced anything like it in my life.

"I had to have counselling for years but Masoud finished it for me. He taught me to like myself again."

Masoud arrived in Britain 14 months ago as an asylum seeker. Legal reasons prevent the release of full details of why he fled his country but he paid $15,000 American dollars to be smuggled out of Tehran and carrying only a single suitcase he travelled by foot, bus, boat and lorry to Europe.

The journey lasted about ten days and Masoud describes how

disorientated he was, haunted by the fear that any of the succession of drivers he encountered could have chosen to dump their illegal cargo.

A flight to Gatwick concluded his journey on June 1 last year and it was there, still frightened and shaken by his ordeal that he was interviewed for asylum.

"I was very nervous and frightened when I first came to this country. I had never done anything like that before and I didn't know what would happen to me," he said.

"I was miserable until I met Teresa. When I met her I thought maybe God was looking down at me. Maybe he was giving me a chance to be happy. I love my wife and I love my wife's son, he is like my son.

"I can't leave them. It's very hard for me."

Claiming asylum is a complicated process and it is not unusual for an initial application to be refused. Asylum seekers have the right to appeal against refusals and it is here that many cases reach a successful conclusion.

Masoud was living in Manchester when six months after his interview at Gatwick Airport he was told his application had been unsuccessful and the long and bureaucratic process of appealing against the Home Office ruling began.

According to Masoud's current solicitor, Tahir Shafiq, it appears errors were made over the following months meaning the first appeal effectively never happened. The second stage – an application for permission to appeal to The Immigrant Appeal Tribunal to have the case heard again – was lodged too late and the request was refused.

Masoud changed his solicitor and moves were under way to get the appeals heard again when he met Teresa for the first time.

They first made contact through a mutual friend and spent months speaking on the telephone before Masoud plucked up the courage to travel down from Manchester by bus to meet the bubbly voice he had been chatting to almost daily.

Nine months after they met and 14 months after Masoud arrived in Britain the couple married.

Teresa's six-year-old-son, James, adored his new father but their

growing bond is hanging by a thread.

"My family and friends were so happy for us when we got married. They could see the love we had for each other and how happy my son was. They fully supported what we were doing."

Teresa describes June 30 as the happiest in her life but just four days later her world fell apart when an immigration officer at Gatwick, where the couple had gone to deliver some papers, told her that it was unlikely Masoud would be granted further appeals.

Today they are hanging on to the hope that the immigration officer was wrong.

Now that he is married Masoud has been told that he could apply for a visa to remain in Britain but only from his home country of Iran and he is terrified of going back.

The couple has also been given a date for a marriage interview but hold little hope of this securing Masoud a permit to stay.

"When I met Masoud he explained to me about his case and that he had been unfairly treated and I thought everything would turn out OK," said Teresa, who was once a full-time nurse and now works as a training advisor at the YMCA in Benezet Street, Ipswich.

"I thought we lived in a fair

country and Masoud would be given the chance to tell his story but he

hasn't. Everything seems to be falling apart at the seams.

"We could both leave the country and live somewhere else but I've got my son here and my home.

"The worst thing at the moment is that Masoud has been told he can't work, not even on a voluntary basis. He's a proud man and he hates sitting at home while I go out to work.

"I just feel so helpless. I've never been like that in all my life and it's a horrible feeling."

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